The G-Unit flag that waved so mightily in the 2000s was at half-staff by the end of the decade. 50 Cent's musical success and relevance was on a downslope, Young Buck and Game were ceremoniously removed from the picture, and Tony Yayo was, well, Tony Yayo. Which meant Lloyd Banks, G-Unit's silent assassin, was left in a discomforting position. The self-proclaimed Punchline King was reeling from a sophomore slump, as well as being dropped from Interscope. So his decision to title his third release as a sequel to his debut album felt more like a desperation move than a novelty nod to its predecessor.
If The Hunger for More was Banks' crowning solo achievement and Rotten Apple the result of lack of execution, H.F.M.2. was somewhere in between.
Given his famous incarceration, the expectations of Tony Yayo's debut were relatively slim. Not that we weren't checking for Yayo, but we weren't quite pulling for him, "Free Yayo" proto-hashtags aside. So you can't say Predicate Felon flopped, really. It's just that the slick/shit balance that blessed 50 never quite leveled with Yayo's persona—"So Seductive" (a certified banger, to be sure) and "Curious" drove
When it was announced that Mobb Deep had signed with G-Unit, the question arose: How would the gritty, raw, and often bleak duo from Queensbridge mesh with the shimmery, engineered, and self-celebratory demeanor of G-Unit? Unfortunately, the answer was: forgettably.
Don't get it twisted, Blood Money has decent moments. It's difficult not to nod your head to the production across the album (with Havoc taking on the majority of titles, but less than his typical share). Tracks like "Put 'Em In Their Place," "Day Dreamin'," and "Pearly Gates" stand out as notable offerings, while others come off as average. Havoc and Prodigy's visceral, unprocessed, hood-charm feels uprooted and their authority a bit diminished by the clear intention to construct records that
Despite Game's single-driven success with "One Blood" and "Wouldn't Get Far," G-Unit proper started flagging in 2006, with few exciting releases and a penchant for drama before music. For a while there, it seemed like Banks was the only G-Unit artists with any hunger in his gut. "Cake" notwithstanding, however, Rotten is as aggressive as it is charmless, with no tracks as turn-up friendly as "I'm So Fly," "On Fire," or "So Seductive." The monotony of Rotten Apple's second half is peak oversaturation of the G-Unit formula, even if tracks like "Hands Up," "Survival," and "Gilmore's" do salvage that familiar energy in spots.
G-Unit was a hell of a movement—really, an inferno insomuch as 50 Cent was fiery and devilish, with incendiary, all-consuming hype. Confronted with 50's debut singles "In Da Club" and "Wanksta" in 2003, Jay Z threw up his hands, as Roc-A-Fella took a backseat to the year. Ja Rule and Irv Gotti's Murda Inc. fumbled, stumbled, crashed. The Ruff Ryders disintegrated. Violator floundered.
For a few tumultuous, glorious years, 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo, Young Buck, and Game were the tallest men standing. (Not that we loved Dipset any less.)
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